The Pautler Lab develops and applies methodologies that permit high-resolution images of the structure and function of the brain in intact, living animals.
Manganese Enhanced MRI (MEMRI) Neuronal Tract Tracing
Her current research efforts build upon the new technique that she developed known as Manganese Enhanced MRI (MEMRI) neuronal tract tracing. Manganese ion, Mn2+, is a calcium analogue and can enter neurons through calcium (Ca2+) channels. Furthermore, Mn2+ is transported along microtubules via fast axonal transport and is also paramagnetic, rendering it MRI detectable in spin-lattice (T1)-weighted MRI images. It is therefore possible to utilize MRI to repeatedly measure dynamic changes in signal intensity, reflective of fast axonal transport of Mn2+ ion, within the same animal before and during disease progression.
Alzheimer's Disease Research
One main project in Dr. Pautler's lab involves utilizing MEMRI to longitudinally elucidate in vivo changes in axonal transport rates in the central nervous system of mouse models of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) as symptoms evolve. Axonal transport deficits have been observed in flies and cultured rodent neurons exposed to excess amyloid precursor protein (APP) or amyloid-beta, but neither the molecular basis of the transport deficit nor the temporal relationship of the transport deficit and the acquisition of AD are known.